It's like there's a Noble Onefold Path: just sit. In the (many) books I've read, the ratio of quotations by Dogen to those by the Buddha are maybe 10 to 1, if the Buddha is mentioned at all beyond the phrase "Buddha nature". Especially prevalent are Dogen's teachings of zazen being synonymous with enlightenment. No talk of sila or remedies for specific defilements, like the simile of the carpenter replacing a rotten peg. I'm sure this is an oversimplification, but this is definitely the impression I've gotten.
This is a good observation. I've seen this as well, and it doesn't particularly correspond to Ch'an or Zen as it's been taught historically, until very recently.
I'm also skeptical that this is the entirety of the work by a man as complex and skilled as Dogen. Yet you wouldn't know it from the places I've gone and the books I've read. Especially alarming is the utter absence of cultivating metta or love. I'll be mighty surprised if Dogen had nothing to say about it, so why does it never come up?
It's good to be skeptical in this way. I don't think Dogen's teaching is reducible to the "just sit" form of practice you have described. Nor is Dogen representative of all of Zen (merely the Soto school of Japan). Perhaps it's time to make a systematic study of Dogen's writings?
I've wondered if this is more characteristic of the sort of casual morals-is-a-dirty-word, practical/materialistic Buddhism that seems popular in the US and not of Zen practice I might see if I went to a Zen monastery versus a sangha made up entirely of laypeople. I do know that monks don't just sit there in zazen from dawn to dusk; they study, discuss the dharma together, and do a lot of physical work as their practice. But why is this so deemphasized in practically every Zen book I've read in English? If I only read these, I don't think I'd even know about the Four Noble Truths or the Noble Eightfold Path. I wouldn't know about wholesome and unwholesome mental states. I wouldn't know about cultivating love. Even going to Zen centers, the dharma talks are about Dogen, and specifically the parts of his teachings that don't mention karma, reincarnation, or having a solid moral base for practice. I'm sure he taught about these things.
It might be good to put this question directly to the teachers you have been working with, in public or in private, as appropriate. It might be worthwhile to check out other centers for comparative purposes.
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